The NFL announced today that St. Louis Rams OLB Jo-Lonn Dunbar will miss the first four games of the 2013 under suspension for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs. Dunbar's absence means that rookie Alec Ogletree will be counted on even more as the Rams start the season.
Dunbar, who came over from the New Orleans Saints last season, recorded 112 tackles, second only to MLB James Laurinaitis. He also contributed 4.5 sacks and had two interceptions.
His four game suspension will cost the team dearly during an early stretch that includes two divisional opponents (Arizona and San Francisco) and two playoff-caliber road opponents (Atlanta and Dallas). Ogletree, who has been working with the first unit already, must now step up and be in a position to replace Dunbar's production.
Because of his familiarity playing under Jeff Fisher in Tennessee, Will Witherspoon would appear to have the inside track on the other starting linebacker position. While Dunbar can still practice and play up until the regular season begins, the competition for his spot now takes on added importance. It will be interesting to see who gets the reps with the first unit, particularly in the next two preseason games.
Dunbar will be eligible to return to the team immediately following the September 26 game against San Francisco.
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